Sunscreens: Making Sense of Sunscreen Products (cont.)

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Whether you choose a lotion, stick, gel, or cream sunscreen depends largely on your skin type and personal preference. Oil-free gels are good solutions for facial skin prone to breakouts, and sprays may make application to the back and shoulders easier. According to FDA recommendations, manufacturers cannot label sunscreens as "waterproof" or "sweatproof," or identify their products as "sunblocks," because these claims are exaggerations. It is impossible to completely block the sun's rays. Manufacturers of sunscreens that claim to be water resistant must indicate on the product label whether the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating, based on standard testing.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 on a daily basis throughout the year. An important note is that no sunscreen can be effective unless it is properly and frequently applied. About 1 ounce (5-6 teaspoons) of sunscreen is recommended to cover the entire body. Further, sunscreen must be reapplied every two hours when staying outdoors for a prolonged period of time.


United States. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "FDA Sheds Light on Sunscreens." May 17, 2012. <>.

Last Editorial Review: 5/28/2014